Traynor a no-show in court as UK seeks extradition
Published 29/09/2010 | 05:00
VERONICA Guerin murder suspect John Traynor was not in court yesterday as extradition proceedings to hand him over to British police began in Amsterdam.
The three-judge hearing was told that the 62-year-old has a serious heart condition but no reason was given for his decision to waive his right to appear in court.
Instead, Traynor, who was arrested by Dutch police almost four weeks ago, remained in his cell in a high-security remand prison near the Dutch city.
The convicted fraudster was using a driving licence in the name of a well-known Amsterdam-based Dublin-born drug trafficker when arrested on a traffic violation on August 24.
He has been on the run from British authorities for 18 years after absconding from prison during compassionate leave. The court heard he has been living illegally in the Netherlands for the past 14 years.
There was no reference to his Irish background except for the formal reading out of his age and place of birth. A court translator was present in case he changed his mind at the last minute and decided to turn up.
Traynor, who ran car garages in Dublin in the 1980s and 1990s, had served two years of a seven-year sentence for fraud and receiving stolen bonds worth an estimated IR£4m at the time, according to the extradition documents.
The British authorities have asked the Dutch to hand him over to sit out the rest of the term, plus a further nine months, the court heard.
Traynor came to the public's attention in 1996 when he applied to the High Court for an injunction preventing journalist Veronica Guerin from alleging he was a drug dealer.
He was granted the injunction after claiming that her planned article would put his life at risk. The court action started just before her murder; she was dead by the time the injunction was granted.
Part of a written statement by Traynor, translated into Dutch, was read out by the presiding judge during yesterday's proceedings: "I did not return to jail after home leave, I have lived 14 years in the Netherlands, I was never registered here but my son was. I am not in good physical condition, I have heart problems," it read.
Asked if ill-health had prevented him from appearing in court, his lawyer said: "I have not heard that, no bad reports."
Fighting the extradition warrant on his behalf, his lawyer argued a number of technical points, saying that the location of the alleged reception of stolen bearer bonds by her client was not stated and other points in the documents were unclear.
She also challenged the length of time which had elapsed since his conviction and terms of the warrant, saying that it could be considered too long a timeframe within the Dutch legal system.
The Dutch public prosecutor told the hearing that all the requirements needed for his handover to the British authorities had been fulfilled and the documents were in order. The three-judge court must decide to extradite him, she said
The court heard that British police had formally requested, within the terms of the extradition warrant, that four mobile phones be handed over to them.
The court ordered that Traynor remain in jail and a verdict on the case will be delivered on October 12.